Hipparchos 1.jpeg
Bornc. 190 BC
Nicaea, Kingdom of Bithynia
Diedc. 120 BC (around age 70)
Rhodes, Roman Republic

Hipparchus of Nicaea (s/; Greek: Ἵππαρχος, Hipparkhos; c. 190 – c. 120 BC) was a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician. He is considered the founder of trigonometry[1] but is most famous for his incidental discovery of precession of the equinoxes.[2]

Hipparchus was born in Nicaea, Bithynia (now İznik, Turkey), and probably died on the island of Rhodes. He is known to have been a working astronomer at least from 162 to 127 BC.[3] Hipparchus is considered the greatest ancient astronomical observer and, by some, the greatest overall astronomer of antiquity. He was the first whose quantitative and accurate models for the motion of the Sun and Moon survive. For this he certainly made use of the observations and perhaps the mathematical techniques accumulated over centuries by the Babylonians and by Meton of Athens (5th century BC), Timocharis, Aristyllus, Aristarchus of Samos and Eratosthenes, among others.[4] He developed trigonometry and constructed trigonometric tables, and he solved several problems of spherical trigonometry. With his solar and lunar theories and his trigonometry, he may have been the first to develop a reliable method to predict solar eclipses. His other reputed achievements include the discovery and measurement of Earth's precession, the compilation of the first comprehensive star catalog of the western world, and possibly the invention of the astrolabe, also of the armillary sphere, which he used during the creation of much of the star catalogue.

Life and work

Relatively little of Hipparchus's direct work survives into modern times. Although he wrote at least fourteen books, only his commentary on the popular astronomical poem by Aratus was preserved by later copyists. Most of what is known about Hipparchus comes from Strabo's Geography and Pliny's Natural History in the 1st century; Ptolemy's 2nd-century Almagest; and additional references to him in the 4th century by Pappus of Alexandria and Theon of Alexandria in their commentaries on the Almagest.[5]

There is a strong tradition that Hipparchus was born in Nicaea (Greek Νίκαια), in the ancient district of Bithynia (modern-day Iznik in province Bursa), in what today is the country Turkey.

The exact dates of his life are not known, but Ptolemy attributes to him astronomical observations in the period from 147–127 BC, and some of these are stated as made in Rhodes; earlier observations since 162 BC might also have been made by him. His birth date (c. 190 BC) was calculated by Delambre based on clues in his work. Hipparchus must have lived some time after 127 BC because he analyzed and published his observations from that year. Hipparchus obtained information from Alexandria as well as Babylon, but it is not known when or if he visited these places. He is believed to have died on the island of Rhodes, where he seems to have spent most of his later life.

It is not known what Hipparchus's economic means were nor how he supported his scientific activities. His appearance is likewise unknown: there are no contemporary portraits. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries coins were made in his honour in Bithynia that bear his name and show him with a globe; this supports the tradition that he was born there.

Hipparchus is thought to be the first to calculate a heliocentric system,[6] but he abandoned his work because the calculations showed the orbits were not perfectly circular as believed to be mandatory by the science of the time. As an astronomer of antiquity, his influence, supported by ideas from Aristotle, held sway for nearly 2000 years, until the heliocentric model of Copernicus.

Hipparchus's only preserved work is Τῶν Ἀράτου καὶ Εὐδόξου φαινομένων ἐξήγησις ("Commentary on the Phaenomena of Eudoxus and Aratus"). This is a highly critical commentary in the form of two books on a popular poem by Aratus based on the work by Eudoxus.[7] Hipparchus also made a list of his major works, which apparently mentioned about fourteen books, but which is only known from references by later authors. His famous star catalog was incorporated into the one by Ptolemy, and may be almost perfectly reconstructed by subtraction of two and two thirds degrees from the longitudes of Ptolemy's stars. The first trigonometric table was apparently compiled by Hipparchus, who is now consequently known as "the father of trigonometry".

Modern speculation

Hipparchus was in the international news in 2005, when it was again proposed (as in 1898) that the data on the celestial globe of Hipparchus or in his star catalog may have been preserved in the only surviving large ancient celestial globe which depicts the constellations with moderate accuracy, the globe carried by the Farnese Atlas. There are a variety of mis-steps[8] in the more ambitious 2005 paper, thus no specialists in the area accept its widely publicized speculation.[9]

Lucio Russo has said that Plutarch, in his work On the Face in the Moon, was reporting some physical theories that we consider to be Newtonian and that these may have come originally from Hipparchus;[10] he goes on to say that Newton may have been influenced by them.[11] According to one book review, both of these claims have been rejected by other scholars.[12]

A line in Plutarch's Table Talk states that Hipparchus counted 103049 compound propositions that can be formed from ten simple propositions. 103049 is the tenth Schröder–Hipparchus number, which counts the number of ways of adding one or more pairs of parentheses around consecutive subsequences of two or more items in any sequence of ten symbols. This has led to speculation that Hipparchus knew about enumerative combinatorics, a field of mathematics that developed independently in modern mathematics.[13][14]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Hipparchos
العربية: أبرخش
asturianu: Hiparco de Nicea
azərbaycanca: Hipparx
беларуская: Гіпарх
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Гіпарх
български: Хипарх
čeština: Hipparchos
dansk: Hipparchos
Esperanto: Hiparko
فارسی: ابرخس
Gaeilge: Hioparcas
galego: Hiparco
한국어: 히파르코스
հայերեն: Հիպարքոս
हिन्दी: हिप्पारकस
hrvatski: Hiparh
Bahasa Indonesia: Hipparkhos
interlingua: Hipparcho
עברית: היפרכוס
ქართული: ჰიპარქე
қазақша: Гиппарх
kurdî: Hîparxos
Кыргызча: Гиппарх
latviešu: Hiparhs
Lëtzebuergesch: Hipparchos vun Nicäa
македонски: Хипарх
norsk nynorsk: Hipparkhos
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Gipparx
پنجابی: ہپارخس
português: Hiparco
română: Hiparh
русский: Гиппарх
Scots: Hipparchus
sicilianu: Ipparcu
Simple English: Hipparchus
slovenčina: Hipparchos z Nikaie
slovenščina: Hiparh
српски / srpski: Хипарх са Родоса
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Hiparh
suomi: Hipparkhos
svenska: Hipparchos
Tagalog: Hiparco
Türkçe: Hipparkos
українська: Гіппарх
中文: 喜帕恰斯
Lingua Franca Nova: Hiparco